Bell/Buzzer Communications

Communication between stations on the mainline of the layout is by means of bell code messages created using a tapper situated on the operating console.  Each Station has a unique bell/buzzer tone so that Station Masters can distinguish which message is for them.

At the start of a running session, the Station Master will open the station’s signal box by sending a “Signal Box Open” message to adjacent station(s).  Similarly, after the last train movement of the session the Station Master will send a “Signal Box Closed” message to adjacent station(s).  After the close message has been sent, no further trains will be accepted or dispatched from the station.

Messages that refer to the sending of a train will include a code for the type of train being dispatched. Train Types are shown in the following table:

Train Type


Express Passenger


Local Passenger


Rail Motor


Express Freight


Local Freight


Light Engine


When a Station Master (Issuer) issues a message to the next station, the receiving Station Master (Receiver) must return the same message code to the Issuer to ensure that it has been received and understood.  The Issuer must wait for the Receiver’s response before continuing.

All messages excluding Signal Box Open and Signal Box Closed are preceded by a Call-to-Attention message.  This is to alert the Receiver to the start of a message sequence.

There follows a list of message sequences. 

Start of Session

Signal Box Open


Used before any operations commence to indicate that the station is manned and responsive. Await confirmation sequence.

Train despatch and arrival

Call to Attention


Used to alert the Receiver of a new message sequence. Await confirmation sequence.

Train Type

see above

The Train Type code of the train being dispatched. This message sequence should occur no more than three fast minutes before departure is due.

Receiver actions:

  1. That it matches the expected train according to the timetable.
  2. Send acknowledgement code to Issuer. 
  3. Set any points required for the train.
  4. Set the signals according to conditions on the route.
  5. Check throttle direction switch.
  6. Set throttle to medium power setting.

Train Departing


At the allotted departure time:

Issuer actions:

  1. Check points status for exiting train.
  2. Set home departure signal.
  3. Check that the signals for the route have been set (check on repeater board and/or home signal).
  4. Check throttle direction switch.
  5. Start the train.
  6. As soon as the last vehicle has passed the home signal, send Train Departing message.

Receiver actions:

  1. Send reply code to issuer.
  2. Check train progress using repeater board.
  3. When train enters Receiver’s Station control, moderate the throttle to match the speed.
  4. Control tarin arrival into station.

Train Arrived


Receiver actions:

  1. Once the last vehicle of the train has past the Receiver’s station home signal, the Train Arrived message is sent to the Issuer.

Issuers actions:

  1. Acknowledge Train Arrived message to Receiver.
  2. Set throttle control to off.


Dialogue Summary



Call to Attention

Acknowledge Call to Attention

Train Type

Acknowledge Train Type

Train Departing

Acknowledge Train Departing

Acknowledge Train Arrived

Train Arrived

Example Dialogue

Listen to a complete dialogue of one station dispatching a local passenger service to an adjacent station.  The longer pause in the sequence is to represent the time for the train to travel between them.

End of Session

Signal Box Closed


When all train movements have finished for the session at this station, bell the Station Box Closed to tell the other Station Master that no further trains will be sent or received.

Exceptional Conditions

Occasionally situations will occur, such as derailments or track issues that require adjacent Station Masters to be alerted.  The following message sequences cover the most common situations.

Repeat Message


When sent, asks the other Station Master to repeat the previous bell code. When received is asking for you to repeat the previous bell code.

Train Required to Stop in Section


When sent or received indicates that the train driver (or Station Master controlling the train) halts it at the red signal in the section.

Train Waiting


When received indicates that there is a train in the section awaiting a proceed signal.

Line Obstruction


When received indicates that there is a derailment or other obstruction on the line.

Train Cancelled


When recieved indicates that the previously advised train has been cancelled.